I’ve just reviewed a document which criticizes in some detail The Message, of which I have recently posted two parts of the Introduction to. The link to the document was posted as part of a Facebook conversation regarding Part 1, if anyone would like to go review it.
Anyway, in that document, the author (who appears to be quite staunchly a King James Only True Version Believer) points out where Peterson changes the meaning of a verse by not using the word ‘begotten’. My first response to that was ‘Alright, point taken (original words and nuance of meaning aside), but how many people use ‘begotten’, except for those quoting the AV?
Sadly, afaik, there is really no contemporary word for that, with its power-packed meaning, but therin lies the quandary of the translator. The whole point of making a new translation is to make God’s Word accessible to many, so it’s counter-productive to use the same word used in other versions, especially if it’s not in current usage.
On top of that, Peterson’s word choice is correct, Jesus is God’s “one and only Son”, though it would take a paragraph to qualify this statement and explain as the author of the critique does (we are all sons, but Jesus has the very nature, and ‘DNA’ if you will, my words, not his). AFAIK, no version to date of The Message has extensive commentary and footnotes and this point, plus many of the other points the author of this article makes would certainly be moot if someone took the huge amount of time required to add that feature to other works which have been around longer.’
But here’s what prompted me to make this post.
The author says ‘To further hide the fact that Jesus was “begotten” of God and is therefore of the same nature, substance and character of God – i.e. that he is “God” himself – Eugene Peterson changes the clear declaration of God in Hebrews 1:5 from:
1) For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son? (King James Bible – Heb 1:5) to
2) Did God ever say to an angel, “You’re my Son; today I celebrate you” or “I’m his Father, he’s my Son”? (“The Message” Heb 1:5)
3) There is a significant difference between the words, “begotten” and “celebrate”, with major theological ramifications resulting from that difference. ‘ (end quote)
To which I say ‘Well, yeah, and I love it! EXACTLY my point!’ Think of a father, with a newborn son. He is ultra-exhilarated, if you have ever experienced that*, and wants to shout it from the rooftops ‘I HAVE A SON!!!’ Now THAT is a nuance that is surely in the word translated begotten, but is TOTALLY lost with ‘begotten’. And I for one am thankful that Peterson teases that exultant sense out of that passage!
*(or a mother: can’t say I have that personal experience, but I do have it on good authority that it is similar, though certainly FAR richer, with other radically different nuances to the same word. Rachel’s dying words in Genesis 35:18 come to mind: naming her newly ‘begotten’ son Ben-oni, ‘son of my pain or sorrow’)
No one translation is going to be perfect, or able to fully express the flavours of what God is trying to communicate to us in His Word. But which do you prefer: lemon, or mint? I like em both, thank you!